Joined Ford Motor Company in 1946 and advanced to President in 1960
Provided leadership for the development of the highly successful Ford Falcon and Mercury Comet
Served as Secretary of Defense under Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson
Robert S. McNamara’s fine analytical mind served America during war and peace, and helped preserve Ford Motor Company in a time of crisis. A business degree from Harvard and World War II service in the Army’s Office of Statistical Control prepared McNamara for one of the automotive industry’s most significant challenges. McNamara was one the “Whiz Kids,” a team of 10 exceptional young men who came to Ford Motor Company in 1946 to direct the company’s turnaround. McNamara was appointed Controller in 1949 and advanced to General Manager of Ford division in 1949. In 1960, he was selected to serve as President. McNamara’s clear and concise thinking, coupled with a great sense of fiscal responsibility, was instrumental in returning Ford Motor Company to profitability. McNamara encouraged the development of Ford’s first compact cars, the reliable Falcon and Comet. The successes of these two models paved the way for the 1957 Fairlane, which was primarily responsible for Ford outselling Chevrolet for the first time in 30 years. McNamara retired from Ford in 1963 to accept President John F. Kennedy’s invitation to serve in his cabinet as Secretary of Defense. He remained in the post following President Kennedy’s death to assist President Lyndon B. Johnson during the critical Vietnam war era.